"THIS PICTURE MAKES VIVID THE LIVES OF THE MEN & WOMEN WHO BUILD THE MODERN AUTOMOBILE. IT SHOWS THEM IN THE MORNING ON THEIR WAY TO WORK, AT WORK IN THE PLANTS & OFFICES, IN THE MARKET PLACES SHOPPING, & AT HOME IN THE PLEASANT EVENING HOURS."
Ken Smith reports: The closest an American sponsored film has ever come to a Soviet mass epic. Featuring incredible narration, an exceptional score and beautiful photography, From Dawn To Sunset takes us through the average working day of a typical Chevrolet assembly plant employee. "The clarion of industry calls 'Good morning!' to America's manpower!" the narrator cries. "Giant smoke stacks write across the skies promise of a new prosperity to every man who labors and serves!" This ennobling of the auto worker creates an amazing universe where socialist solidarity and unfettered capitalism march side by side toward...what? The Chevrolet employees are supposed to be content with a steady job and enough money to feed the family; the megaprofits that G.M. executives made off these robotized legions of "neighborly workmen" are never addressed. Beautifully made and a lot of fun to watch. Is it mere coincidence that 1937 was the year that sit-down strikes forced G.M. to recognize the U.A.W.?
In 1937, just after the successful sitdown strike at Chevrolet, the company made this film about a typical "day in the life" of a composite Chevrolet worker. This film (which has a new resonance now as parent company General Motors continues to close plants and eliminate thousands of jobs) positioned workers as consumers, placing them in a relationship of symbiosis with the company for which they work and avoiding any mention of unions, class differences, or disharmony. ItÕs even richer as a document because it employs images that might be found in the Soviet cinema of the time; in Roland MarchandÕs terms, this film might be called an example of Òcapitalist realism.Ó
The film, which seems to have been drawn in part from preexisting footage, presents Chevrolet's "spin" on labor relations. Throughout, it's a picture of harmony Ñ affectionate and loving family relations, fraternal affection between workers (some even march to work arm in arm), cordial relations between paymasters and workers, and friendly shopkeepers selling goods to those who enjoy the fruits of the full pay envelope. With an enthusiasm unusual in the United States during peacetime, an offscreen chorus even sings a song about the pleasures of going to work:
"Dawn is breaking in the sky,
Men to their work are marching.
Hear the tramp of feet
That swing along and sing a song of happiness, of peace!
In the east, a rising sun Ñ
Tells of a new day coming.
Men of skill and might to work are going, are going
The wheels of industry are rolling.
Here they come! Hear the song! Everyone!
Hallelujah, night is gone,
Hail to the bright new morning.
Eager souls are there...to start the morning,
With a song in the heart, joy in the soul,
Marching in the morning sun!"
All of this singing and celebration of consumption can't hide that a real power shift occurred in the United States during the sixteen months that passed between the release of Master Hands and From Dawn to Sunset. That change was the sitdown strikes at Flint and the growth of industrial unionism in the form of the CIO. The workers' victory at Flint stimulated union organization in most major industries and made labor a powerful economic force, ultimately leading to increased prosperity for millions of families, the Fifties economic boom, and the growth of suburbia.
From Dawn to Sunset shows workers arising, their morning ablutions, an epic treatment of the journey to work, crowds assembling and filing into factories and people on the job. In parallel, we see payday after payday, shopping at stores and markets; and later, evening recreation at bowling alleys, dancehalls and at the card table, and "turning in" for a night's sleep. To the tune of music with regional connotations, we see downtown skylines, landmarks, and food markets in each of these cities: Tarrytown and Buffalo, N.Y.; St. Louis and Kansas City, Mo.; Detroit and Flint, Mich.; Baltimore, Md.; Norwood (Cincinnati), Ohio; Atlanta, Ga.; Oakland, Calif. and Janesville, Wis.
Hey, what happened to the women? Aside from a couple of goodbye kisses in the morning and some shopping scenes, it looks as if Chevy workers live and work in an all-male world.
00:01:40:00 Text scrolls over a silhouette of an industrial skyline
00:02:45:00 CU Alarm clock [reads 5:55]. Clock is superimposed over houses
00:02:54:00 LS Morning images of people opening windowshades; picking up milk from front steps all superimposed over footage of houses
00:03:01:00 CU Man washes face over sink; man shaves with a straight razor; man combs hair; eggs and bacon cooking in skillet; all superimposed over footage of houses
00:03:13:00 MS Man and woman at breakfast table eating
00:03:17:00 MS Man and woman, seen from behind, kiss goodbye at their front door. Man walks down front steps of his home.
00:03:25:00 LS Man leaves his house carrying lunchpail; walks past bottle of milk on the porch
00:03:27:00 LS Man lights cigarette on porch
00:03:32:00 LS Man leaves house
00:03:33:00 LS Man waves goodbye to child then walks toward his car in a garage
00:03:35:00 LS Man leaves house, carrying lunchpail, and waves goodbye through
00:03:56:00 LS Many more men leave houses and walk along sidewalks together.
00:04:02:00 LS Cars roll down the street in the same direction as the men on the sidewalks
00:04:13:00 MS Car pulls out of driveway; small children on porch wave goodbye
00:04:14:00 CU Small children, boy and girl, wave goodbye to their father
00:04:22:00 LS Men head to work by two's and three's; as they get closer to work the clumps of men get larger.
00:04:32:00 MS Men takes other man's arm.
00:04:40:00 LS Crowds of men stream into work. "Tarrytown, New York" is superimposed on screen.
00:04:47:00 LS Plant with "Chevrolet" sign
00:04:53:00 LS Flint, Michigan Chevrolet plant; workers stream in
00:05:00:00 LS Workers at Oakland, California plant
00:05:13:00 LS Workers at Detroit, Michigan plant
00:05:20:00 LS Workers enter building with tall Ionic columns
00:05:23:00 MS Men go through revolving doors
00:05:32:00 LS Atlanta, Georgia plant
00:05:36:00 MS Men and women filing into work
00:05:39:00 LS Buffalo, New York plant
00:05:48:00 LS Jamesville, Wisconsin plant
00:05:54:00 LS Norwood, Ohio plant
00:05:56:00 MS Lower body only seen; many legs walking
00:05:58:00 LS Kansas City, Missouri plant
00:06:06:00 LS Baltimore, Maryland plant
00:06:12:00 LS St. Louis, Missouri
00:06:16:00 LS Looking down at workers from atop a factory
00:06:39:00 LS Workers file into office with dozens of desks
00:06:44:00 MS Workers punch in
00:07:38:00 CU Steam whistles (various)
00:07:48:00 MS Worker turns wheel
00:07:52:00 MS Giant gear starts spinning
00:07:53:00 CU Hand reaches up to grab suspended power tool
00:08:04:00 LS Assemblyline begins rolling
00:08:22:00 MS Engines move down assembly line
00:08:35:00 LS Workers move fenders
00:08:40:00 LS Workers install front ends
00:08:42:00 LS Wheel hubs roll down tracks
00:08:52:00 LS Worker installs wheels
00:08:58:00 MS Body of car is lowered onto chassis
00:09:16:00 LS Workers, like ants, surround cars and assemble them
00:09:39:00 LS Workers holding large lights in their hands inspect cars
00:09:48:00 CU Inspection of car's interior: dashboard and glove compartment
00:17:43:00 LS Lines of cars inspected by white-coated workers
00:17:46:00 LS Cars exit a dozen garage doors in a line, simultaneously
00:17:51:00 LS Cars park in giant parking lot.
00:17:58:00 MS Man drives car into lot
00:18:03:00 CU A row of front grilles of cars
00:18:09:00 LS Looking down a row of cars parked front to back
00:18:19:00 LS Many cars riding around lot
00:18:22:00 MS Truck drives cars onto waiting railroad freight car
00:18:26:00 LS Locomotive stopped in parking lot
00:18:44:00 MS Automobiles being loaded onto railroad freight car
00:18:55:00 MS Images of cars passing by are mirrored on the shiny trunks of rows of parked automobiles
00:19:02:00 LS Camera pans rows of automobiles
00:19:36:00 LS Cars are loaded onto trucks for transport
00:19:53:00 LS Lines of railcars crisscross over lines of trucks hauling cars on road below
00:19:58:00 CU Truck passes by with sign: "CHOOSE CHEVROLET FOR QUALITY AT LOW COST"
00:20:00:00 CU Paychecks being distributed to masses of men
00:20:42:00 MS Man in suit hands paychecks to clerical workers
00:20:45:00 MS Man paying merchant for a small purchase
00:20:48:00 MS Women buying clothing in department store
00:20:49:00 LS Man being handed keys to new car; his family is standing around
00:20:51:00 MS Man and woman buying refrigerator
00:20:56:00 MS Woman buying produce
00:20:57:00 MS Crowds of people on busy commercial street
00:21:00:00 MS Man buys loaf of bread
00:21:02:00 CU Bottle of milk; carton of ice cream; butter
00:21:03:00 CU Woman buying groceries
00:21:05:00 LS People in grocery store making purchases
00:21:09:00 LS Crowds of people on busy commercial street
00:21:13:00 CU Building engraved with the words "NorthTarrytown"
00:21:15:00 LS Camera pans Tarrytown
00:21:16:00 CU Sign "SLEEPY HOLLOW MANOR"
00:21:21:00 CU Engraved stone reading: "WASHINGTON IRVING 1783-1859 ESSAYIST POET
00:21:23:00 LS Statue / memorial Washington Irving
00:21:27:00 LS School building Tarrytown
00:21:43:00 LS Workers in factory getting paid
00:21:44:00 LS Grocery store exterior; sign reads "Daniel Reeves"
00:21:47:00 MS People paying for groceries
00:21:49:00 CU Hand (using metal scoop) scoops pasta from bins into paper bag
00:21:49:00 MS Man buys food in Italian grocery store; large cheese hang on display
00:21:51:00 MS Bakery sign "Yunger's Bakery"
00:21:53:00 CU Camera pans baked goods and pastry in window
00:21:55:00 MS Clothing store with "Clearance" signs in window
00:21:57:00 MS Man makes purchase in shirt store
00:21:58:00 MS Man examines paintbrushes in hardware store
00:22:00:00 MS Boy plays violin in music store; man nods and takes out wallet
00:22:02:00 LS Aerial views of piers
00:22:14:00 CU Francis Scott Key inscription in stone
00:22:19:00 CU "Baltimore" inscribed in stone
00:22:20:19 LS Tug boat on river; Baltimore skyline
00:22:25:00 LS City scenes, Baltimore: trolleys, crowds, open-air markets
00:22:40:00 LS Workers receiving paychecks
00:22:43:00 CU Hand picks up an orange
00:22:44:00 CU Hand makes change from cash register
00:22:45:00 CU Hands select live crabs from bushels
00:22:50:00 CU Hand selects live frog from vat (presumably for eating)
00:22:53:00 CU Fish on display
00:22:56:00 LS Street scenes
00:22:58:00 CU Hand working with money
00:23:00:00 MS Book store customer purchases books
00:23:02:00 LS Children in lines on way to school
00:23:09:00 MS Dad buys bicycle for boy
00:23:11:00 MS Boy in scout uniform in scout store
00:23:13:00 CU "Buffalo" sign in metal relief
00:23:18:00 LS Buffalo scenes: bridge; skyline
00:23:27:00 LS "Washington Market" customers strolling
00:23:35:00 CU Sign "Paymaster"
00:23:38:00 MS Lines of workers receive paychecks
00:23:43:00 MS Woman makes purchase in food store
00:23:47:00 LS Street scene in shopping district
00:23:49:00 LS Salesman in furniture store points out bed to woman customer
00:23:51:00 MS Customers examine rug in store
00:23:56:00 MS Man tries on leather bomber jacket in store
00:23:57:00 MS Man tries on ear muffs in store
00:23:58:00 MS Man tries on long leather jacket in store
00:24:01:00 MS Man plays accordion in store
00:24:14:00 CU Sign: Janesville
00:24:18:00 LS Workers receive paychecks
00:24:21:00 MS Men working at drafting table being handed check
00:24:27:00 MS Food store
00:24:29:00 CU Wisconsin cheddar cheese being sold
00:24:32:00 LS Main street, shopping district
00:24:39:00 LS Overhead shot, department store
00:24:41:00 MS Man tries on cap in store
00:24:42:00 MS Clerk shows lunchpail to man in store
00:24:49:00 CU Ambassador bridge
00:25:04:00 MS Lines of men being paid
00:25:15:00 MS Shopping in food store
00:25:16:00 LS Crowds shopping in department stores
00:25:20:00 LS Man buying pitchfork in store
00:25:22:00 LS People buying croquet mallet in store
00:25:30:00 LS Bridge in Cincinnati
00:25:33:00 LS City scenes in Cincinnati; buildings; trolleys
00:25:55:00 MS Woman buying baked goods
00:25:57:00 CU Butcher sawing large piece of meat with handsaw
00:25:58:00 CU Steak placed on scale for weighing
00:26:01:00 LS Shopping for linoleum; giant rolls of linoleum standing in store
00:26:05:00 MS Shopping for coffee- and teapots
00:26:09:00 MS Women workers make change using old-fashioned pneumatic tubes on string system
00:26:10:00 MS Shopping for furniture
00:26:14:00 LS Shopping for a piano
00:26:20:00 CU "Atlanta" inscribed in stone
00:26:21:00 CU Sign "Georgia School of Technology"
00:26:29:00 LS Street scenes, Atlanta
00:26:38:00 MS Workers receive paychecks
00:26:44:00 MS Shopping in food stores
00:26:48:00 CU Shopping basket filled with packaged food: Alaga corn syrup; grits; corn meal; Perkerson's
Danger Lurks AUTOMOBILES ASSEMBLY LINES FACTORIES INDUSTRY MEN WOMEN WORKERS LABOR CHEVROLET ADVERTISING DAILY LIFE COMMUTING TRAVEL TRAINS BUSES TRANSPORTATION OFFICES MARKETS FOOD SHOPPING RECREATION LEISURE SPORTS BOWLING HOMES HOUSES INTERIORS CHILDREN PARENTS Workers General Motors Automobiles (assembly) Crowds Mornings Alarm clocks Lines Factories Kisses Breakfast Montages Marches Socialist realism Bedrooms Houses and homes Streets (residential) Chevrolet Flint, Michigan Tarrytown, New York Cincinnati, Ohio Kansas City, Missouri Baltimore, Maryland Oakland, California Golden Gate Bridge Bridges Atlanta, Ga. Buffalo, N.Y. Food Markets Shopping Crabs Evenings Recreation Working-class life 1930s Depression (1930s) Harbors Rivers Cities (U.S.) (1930s) Capitalism Money Paychecks Payroll Dancing (feet) Feet (dancing) Drive-ins Restaurants Industry Manufacturing
Day breaks in the East and a mighty army rises. Not an army marching to the deep and desolating roar of shells, but a mighty army of builders who go forth accompanied by the whistles from America's greatest factories - while their giant smokestacks write across the skies promise of a new prosperity in a land where that prosperity brings a fuller life to every man who labors and who serves. [Chevrolet Motor Division, General Motors Sales Corporation presents From Dawn to Sunset, produced by The Jam Handy Organization. bombast pretension capitalist realism propaganda main titles crawl]
And as each builder marches forth to shape his destiny tens of thousands more go with him, side by side - and so each one is multiplied. And thus America has grown from the combined services of those who plan, create, and build - each day serving better, earning more, and building greater values than can be found in any other nation of the world.
[alarm clocks waking up morning city symphonies montages alarms bells time houses tracking shots traveling shots milk washing ears shaving mirrors combing hair ablutions hygiene cleaning cleanliness stoves cooking breakfast eating couples goodbye spring kisses intimacy]
The clarion call of industry sounds good morning to America's manpower. As dawn comes out of the east, and spreads down the quiet streets, the clans gather in a score of cities. [walking commuting leaving home departure]
In thousands of homes, vigorous workmen rise to meet a new day and a new opportunity. The morning sun stirs the nation's workmen, prompting them to their posts of daily service. Follow the eastern sun as it rises on the homes of men along the great Atlantic seaboard.
The morning light over the plains has waked the thousands who are off to enliven the factories of the vast midwestern states and along the sunny shores of the Pacific men are on their way to quicken the beat of industry. In twelve great cities located in every region of the country the clans are gathering for the work of a new day. [lemmings children waving goodbye]
As the sun stretches fingers of light across the pavements, the early morning sparkles with the greeting of men to men. On their way to factories in Flint and Atlanta, from Tarrytown to Oakland, the neighborly workmen hail each other with the salute of fellowship. [Tarrytown, New York: Immortalized by Washington Irving's "Sketch Book" lemmings walking crowds buddies homosexuality gay]
Along the roads to the factories tens of thousands begin to mass. They swell the rising tide. Into the silent buildings flows the life stream. The great producing units of the nation's mightiest manufacturing enterprise awaits. The giant assembly plants begin to stir. [Flint, Michigan: The world's greatest automobile center Oakland, California: In the Great Bay district of the Pacific Coast]
[white-collar workers white collar clerical clerks Detroit, Michigan: In the dynamic heart of the Central States. Atlanta, Georgia: In the heart of the old and new Dixie]
Dawn is breaking in the sky, men to their work are marching. Hear the tramp of feet that spring along and sing a song of happiness complete. In the east, the rising sun, tells of a new day coming. Men of skill and might to work are going, so going, the wheels of industry are going, here they come, hear the song, everyone. [white-collar workers white collar clerical clerks songs choruses capitalist realism Factories Buffalo, New York: On the frontier of the Empire State Janesville, Wisconsin: In the rich farm and dairylands of the lake country Norwood, Cincinnati, Ohio: In the beautiful Ohio Valley Kansas City, Missouri: Gateway to the plains and ranches of the Great West Baltimore, Maryland: Birthplace of The Star-Spangled Banner]
Hallelujah, night is gone, hail to the bright new morning. Eager souls are there, content to start the day with a song in their hearts, joy in their souls, marching with the morning sun! [St Louis, Missouri: On the mighty Mississippi, at the crossroads of America]
Marching with the morning sun! [factory whistles steam whistles timeclocks time clocks lines masses workers desks offices punching in draftspeople draftsmen]
In every corner of the country, in a dozen great cities, the bugle call of industry has summoned the clan. Legions of craftsmen have joined to supply transportation for a nation of individuals. Along the main current of the assembly lines light falls across men spreading to their stations. The stillness of the factories breaks.
The tramp of many feet makes way for the rhythmic hum of smooth spinning machinery. Under the guidance of skilled workmen, comfort and speed and safety are built into motor cars for all America. All that fine automobiles are made of, all that the builders need, is ready for assembly. America is at work. [flywheels assembly lines power switches engines fenders final assembly wheels tires wipes body drop Chevrolets 1937]
[final assembly inspection assembly lines]
[cars exiting garages precision simultaneity simultaneous synchronized inventory loading coupes railroads trains boxcars transporters closing doors reflections montages]
The great automobile factories and the grounds encircling them are never empty. Like mighty reservoirs they feed the streams of cars along the highways.
A million families call for motor cars. The work of men who make them is always in demand. America has a ready purse and gives eager acceptance to what the men of motors have built - and built well. [loading automobiles]
Fine materials, soundly assembled, and while a restless and never satisfied horizon calls, the new automobiles stream from the factories, spreading pleasure and speeding business all across the country. The destination? Everywhere, USA. [railroads trucks transporters]
[We're in the Money payrolls paydays money checks wages hands workers foremen managers]
And now a stream of paychecks flows to all the men who are building a million cars for the boulevards and highways of America. Tens of thousands of men, on one single payroll, have money for themselves and for their families to spend. [payrolls paydays money checks wages hands]
Money to spend for wholesome foods, for good clothes. Money for comforts and conveniences. Fresh buying power floods into all the stores of every community. New trade and new commerce have been created by the overflow of purses. [markets fruit groceries grocers salesmen shopping radios customers refrigerators shoppers bakeries bakers milk butter dairy products]
And beyond the marketplaces, new wealth flourishes, and new prosperity grows. Prosperity greater than history has ever known.
[Sleepy Hollow Manor Washington Irving 1783 - 1859, Essayist, Poet streets sidewalks North Tarrytown Hudson River Daniel Reeves Yunger's Bakery Levitans pastries violins music store paydays]
[Francis Scott Key 1780 - 1848 Baltimore inner harbor monuments downtown streets paydays fruit cash registers crabs shellfish frogs fish bookstores schoolchildren crossing street children bicycle stores Boy Scouts of America]
[Buffalo bridges Buffalo City Hall markets paydays workers downtown streets furniture stores carpet stores pneumatic tubes coats clothing stores earmuffs winter clothes accordions Washington Market Paymaster]
[Janesville, Wisconsin towns Main Streets]
On Wisconsin, On Wisconsin, line up for your pay. On Wisconsin, shout out your name. [Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul, and Pacific Railroad railroad stations signs Wisconsin Factory paydays wages workers cheeses department stores hats]
[Ambassador Bridge, Detroit, Michigan Cadillac Square city parks paydays workers wages pitchforks]
[Caps 99 c bridges rivers Cincinnati Drive Carefully signs Art Deco Cincinnati Union Terminal railroad stations Carew Tower skyscrapers statues sculpture downtown streets paydays workers meat steaks butcher shops sawing linoleum stores teapots furniture stores sofas pianos music stores]
[Atlanta Georgia School of Technology downtown streets Peachtree Street traffic factories paydays Alaga syrup Perkerson's Meal Grits Zaban's shopping arcades hats shoes pulleys jackets]
[Kansas City Municipal Airport aerials Kansas City, Missouri Art Deco airfields airports downtown streets grain elevators paydays shopping watermelon corn fruit steaks beef clothes cloth textiles department stores lawnmowers]
There is a city on the rivershore, ol' Mississippi blowing past the door, hear the steamers whistle as they come in 'round the bend, roll on you Mississippi roll on, come you lazy steamer move on, clear that river here we come, lots of smoke boy, hear that engine humming, lordy. Take a look at that shore, soon I'll be with the folks I adore. Oh lordy, there's a spot, around that bend, that's my home. Come on you old man river come on, you roll on, you mississippi, roll on. [Welcome to St. Louis. Protect our citizens. Please observe traffic laws. Mayor Saint Louis, Missouri downtowns Mississippi River Cahokia signs steamboats paydays streets shopping sauerkraut pickled pig's feet pork cheese wurst frankfurters sausages cheese weighing girls doll carriages baby carriages perambulators tires fans]
Golden Gate, o yeah comin to ya, Golden Gate, o yeah, sing hallelujah. Hear the sound (inaudible) the (inaudible), where every month is June, Golden Gate, o yeah, is smiling my way, just beyond the Lincoln Highway, going strong now, it won't be long now, open up that Golden Gate. [Oakland San Francisco California Bay Bridge San Pablo Avenue Oakland City Hall ferries Southern Pacific Santa Clara harbors ports piers waterfront Fisherman's Wharf paydays workers markets artichokes butter chicken shrimp fish deep sea crabs shellfish department stores vases clothes]
The pleasure of buying, the spreading of money, and the enjoyment of all the things paychecks can buy, are making happy all the thousands of families.
And when the sun drops low at close of day, and the evening shadows lengthen all across the continent. The men return from work with the wind fresh in their faces. Each feels that his home is the best of places. and each in his heart is right. [heroic poses palm trees California homes bungalows Oakland workers returning home fathers daughters girls Oakland Tribune newspapers servitude removing Daddy's shoes teapots avocado fruit reading aloud drive-ins restaurants carhops]
Then comes time for play, and friends, and recreation. [lakes boats dealing cards dancing legs bowling spare]
And so across America, the thousands have worked today, and done their tasks well. And as the lights blink out, a day of work, a day of fulfillment, of happiness, and of peace, merges into the assurance of the fuller life, in the great American way. Lights out . . lights out . . . [piggyback rides reading closing books yawning alarm clocks bedtime undressing pillows lights babies bassinets sleeping]
One more perfect day is through. Lights off, lights out, shadows creep across the blue. The night has come upon you, so sleep sleep till morning greets the day. Lights out, lights out, sleep till morning greets the day. Sleep till morning greets the day! [The End end titles Chevrolet logo]